Big or small, important or trivial, we’ve all got something that worries us. And so did a “baker’s dozen” of characters in Renée A. Nixon’s Worried, a new play that opened Friday night as part of Burning Coal Theatre Company’s “Wait Til You See This” second-stage series. In addition to entertainment, this play has a stated purpose. At the end of the curtain speech, we were urged to forget our worries, to “sit back and relax as the characters deal with their stress.” We then were presented with a tableaux — each of the 13 actors struck a pose, and one-by-one they stated their reason to worry.
What follows is a series of engaging scenes, mostly monologues, in which we get in-depth perspectives on a variety of causes for worry — causes that include a bridesmaid’s fear of never getting married, a man’s need for a network of “supporters,” a woman’s stress over being the only person who takes responsibility for the care of her husband’s mother, a couple’s apprehensions about their son’s safety, a man’s denial of paternity (does he “protest too much”?), and a woman’s abject fear and understandable resentment in the wake of losing her husband. Further themes include breast cancer, the question of “control” in a marriage, getting an unlikely ally in the quest for revenge (on a two-timer — who is actually a five-timer — who has spread an STD), dealing with being a “side dude,” and the issues that arise from a biracial royal wedding.
It is a truism that worry affects one’s hair — hair turns gray, and/or hair starts to fall out. So, it is no surprise that the twin themes of gray hair and hair loss repeatedly crop up in this play. And, given the crisp, playful style of Nixon’s writing, it is also not surprising that these themes frequently give rise to chuckles and grins.
The entire cast is strong; there is no “weak link.” Each of the actors commanded our interest in all of the stories, from start to finish. The stories that we found the most moving (because of the subject matter) were “Mama,” “Hurt,” and “Boobs.” The most entertaining stories were “Revenge” and “Alone & Lonely.” We enjoyed the occasional reversal of expectations (which were deftly handled by the actors), and there were several times that we found ourselves reveling in the pleasure of cheering for the underdog as we witnessed changes in karma.
The set is simple — one table and a few chairs. The few props that are used are easily carried on and off in the between-the-scenes dark, and these changes are so quick and seamless that they do not hamper the flow.
Co-produced by Renée A. Nixon & SheCow Productions and Diamonds, Pearls, and Pink Roses Productions at Burning Coal Theatre Company’s Murphey School Auditorium in Raleigh, NC, Worried is entertaining and enlightening: a rewarding way to spend an evening.
Burning Coal Theatre Company, in association with Renée A. Nixon & SheCow Productions and Diamonds, Pearls, and Pink Roses Productions, presents WORRIED, written and directed by Renée A. Nixon, at 7:30 p.m. June 10 and 15, 2 p.m. June 16, 7:30 p.m. June 23, and 2 p.m. June 24 in Murphey School Auditorium, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604.
BOX OFFICE: 919-834-4001 or http://www.etix.com/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.facebook.com/WORRIEDtheplay/videos/1842905199100765/.
2017-18 “WAIT TIL YOU SEE THIS” SECOND-STAGE SERIES: http://burningcoal.org/secondstage/.
Renée A. Nixon & SheCow Productions: https://www.facebook.com/reneenix.moviechic.
Worried: The Play (play): https://www.facebook.com/WORRIEDtheplay/ (Facebook page).
Renée A. Nixon (Durham, NC playwright and director): https://www.facebook.com/reneenix.moviechic (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.